“A President Speaks” is a collection of speeches and addresses delivered by a president, usually compiled to provide insight into their vision, policies, and thoughts during their time in office.
A President Speaks Summary
A President Speaks Summary in English:
In this essay, Kalam says that from Alexander onwards, many nations have invaded our country and looted us. They took over what was ours. Yet India has not done this to any other nation. We have not conquered anyone. We have not snatched their land, their culture, and their history. We have not tried to enforce our way of life on them. It was because we love freedom.
Then Kalam talks about his three visions for India. He says that his first vision for India is of freedom. India got its first vision of freedom in 1857 when the war of independence was started. It is this freedom that we must protect. We must nurture it and build future of India on it. If we are not free, no one will respect us. Kalam’s second vision for India is of development. For fifty, years we have been a developing nation.
It is time we saw ourselves as a developed nation. We are among top 5 nations of the world in terms of GDP. Our poverty levels are falling. Our achievements are being globally recognized today. Yet we lack the self-confidence to see ourselves as a developed and self-reliant nation. Kalam’s third vision for India is of strength.
Kalam says that India must become strong. It must stand up to the world. Only then can we win respect. Kalam says that only strength respects strength. So we must be strong. We should be strong not only as a military power, but also as an economic power.
Kalam refers to our obsession with foreign goods. He says that India has made wonderful success in many fields. Yet we run after foreign goods. We want foreign TVs, foreign shirts and foreign technology. Kalam is unable to understand this obsession with everything imported. He says that self-respect comes with self-reliance. We must realize this truth. We must become self-reliant and not run after imported things.
We are never tired of finding fault with our government, our laws, and all the things that are related with the government. But we never ask ourselves as to what we do about it. We behave very differently when we are in another country. There, we become very responsible and law-abiding in our behaviour. We don’t dare to do anything that is not acceptable there.
For example, in Dubai we would not dare to eat in public in Ramadan. In Jeddah, we would not dare to go out without covering our head. In London, we would not dare to bribe an employee of the telephone exchange to have our calls billed to someone else. When we are in Australia or New Zealand, we would not throw our empty coconut shell on the beach.
We don’t throw it anywhere other than the garbage pail. Similarly, we would never spit paan on the streets of Tokyo. And in Boston, we shall never try to buy false certificates from an employee in the examination department.
But in our own country, we shall do all these things without any fear or sense of shame. Kalam wonders why we can’t behave like a good citizen in India also. We willingly follow a foreign system, but don’t care a fig for our own. How strange !
We blame the government for everything and never care about our own duty. Often people take their dog for a walk on the road. The dog leaves its droppings all over the place. And then we blame the government for dirty pavements.
Kalam says that in countries like America and Japan, every dog owner has to clean the droppings of his pet. But the people in India would never do it. They will only blame the government.
We expect the government to do everything for us. We go to the polls and choose a government. Then we think that our responsibility is finished. We sit back comfortably and expect the government to do everything for us.
We expect the government to clean up the roads and streets. But we don’t stop throwing the garbage all over the place. We never stop to pick up a stray piece of paper and throw it into the bin. We expect the railways to provide clean bathrooms.
But we never care to make a proper use of them. We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and toiletries. But we shall not stop our habit of pilfering. Surely, we are the strangest of people.
Kalam says that we are in the habit of finding fault with the government. We find fault with our laws, and our system. We show great concern about burning social issues. Women, dowry, girl child, etc. are not subjects for us.
We make a show of loud protests in public. We blame the system but when it comes to us, we behave most selfishly. We begin to say, “How will it matter if I alone give up my son’s right to dowry ?” We fail to realize that we are also a part of the system.
How will the system change if we don’t change ourselves ? In great despair, Kalam says that everybody is out to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. We have mortgaged our conscience to money. Kalam calls upon every Indian to do what the country needs from us.
A President Speaks Translation in English
This inspiring speech was delivered by President A. P.J. Abdul Kalam (1931-2015), a scholar and scientist of world renown, in Hyderabad. He was a human being with a keen perception and sensitivity, to human want and suffering.
Various distinctions? and awards form the various milestones of his outstanding life. In 1997, he was awarded BHARAT RATNA, the highest civilian honour of the country. His stay in the Rashtrapati Bhawan was marked by a childlike indifference to conventions.
It is interesting to note that his site on the Internet is dedicated to mother, father, teacher, and Almighty. One can learn a great deaf from his other speeches too.
I have three visions for India. In 3000 years of our history, people from all over the world have come and invaded us, captured our lands, conquered our minds. From Alexander onwards, the Greeks, the Turks, the Moguls, the Portuguese, the British, the French, the Dutch, all of them came and looted us, took over what was ours.
Yet we have not done this to any other nation. We have not conquered anyone. We have not grabbed their land, their culture, and their history and tried to enforce our way of life on them. Why This is because we respect the freedom of others.
That is why my first vision is that of FREEDOM. I believe that India got its first vision of this in 1857 when we started the war of independence. It is this freedom that we must protect and nurture and build on. If we are not free, no one will respect us.
My second vision for India is of DEVELOPMENT. For fifty years we have been a developing nation. It is time we saw ourselves as a developed nation. We are among top 5 nations of the world in terms of GDP. We have 10 percent growth rate in most areas.
Our poverty levels are falling. Our achievements are being globally recognized today. Yet we lack the self-confidence to see ourselves as a developed nation, self-reliant and self-assured. Isn’t this incorrect ? I have a third vision.
India must STAND UP to the world. Because I believe that, unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. Only strength respects strength. We must be strong not only as a military power but also as an economic power. Both must go hand-in- hand.
My good fortune was to have worked with three great minds. Dr Vikram Sarabhai of the Deptt. of Space, Prof. Satish Dhawan, who succeeded him and Dr Brahm Prakash, the father of nuclear materials. I was lucky to have worked with all three of them closely and consider this the great opportunity of my life.
We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why ? We are the first in milk production. We are number one in remote sensing satellites. We are the second largest producer of wheat. We are the second largest producer of rice. Another question : why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things ?
Why do we want foreign TVs ? Why do we want foreign shirts? Why do we want foreign technology? Why this obsession with everything imported? Do we not realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance ?
I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14-year-old girl asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life was. She replied : ‘I want to live in a developed India.’ For her, you and I will have to build this developed India. You must proclaim: India is not an under developed nation; it is a highly developed nation. Do you have 10 minutes ? Allow me to take you with a vengeance.
Give 10 minutes for your country, and read on :
- YOU say that our government is inefficient.
- YOU say that our laws are too old.
- YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage’.
- YOU say that the phones don’t work, the railways are a joke, the airline is the worst in the world.
- YOU say that mails never reach their destination.
- YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits.
- YOU say, say and say. What do YOU do about it ?
Take a person on his way to Singapore. Give him a name – YOURS. Give him a face – YOURS. YOU walk out of the airport and you are at your international best. In Singapore you don’t throw litter on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud.
of their underground links as they are. You pay $5 to drive through Orchard Road (equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
YOU come back to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have overstayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of6 your status identity. In Singapore you don’t say anything, DO YOU ?
YOU wouldn’t dare to eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai, YOU would not dare to go out without your head covered in Jeddah. YOU would not dare to buy an employee of the telephone exchange in London at 10 pounds a month to, “see to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else.”
YOU would not dare to speed beyond7 55 mph (88 km/h) in Washington and then tell the traffic cop, “Jaanta hai mai kaun boon ? (Do you know who I am ?) / am so and so’s son. Take your tivo bucks and get lost. ”
You wouldn’t chuck an empty coconut shell9 anywhere other than the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand. Why don’t YOU spit paan on the streets of Tokyo ? Why don’t YOU use examination jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston ?
We are still talking of the same YOU. YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw papers and garbage on the road the moment you touch Indian ground.
If you can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the same here in India ? Once in an interview, the famous ex-municipal commissioner of Bombay (Mumbai), Mr Tinaikar had a point to make.
“Rich people’s dogs are walked on the streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the place,” he said. “And then the same people turn around to criticize and blame the authorities for inefficiency and dirty pavements.
What do they expect the officers to do ? Go down with a broom every time their dog feels the pressure in his bowels. In America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the job. Same in Japan. Will the Indian citizen do that here ?” He’s right. We go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all responsibility.
We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place, nor are we going to stop to pick up a stray piece of paper and throw it in the bin.
We expect the railways to provide clean bathrooms but we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms. We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and toiletries but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity.
This applies even to the staff that is known not to pass on the service to the public. When it comes to burning social issues like those related to women, dowry, girl child and others, we make loud drawing-room protestations and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse ? “It’s the whole system
which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my son’s rights to a dowry ?” So who’s going to change the system ? What does a system consist of ? Very conveniently for us it consists of our neighbours, other households, other cities, other communities and the government.
But definitely not me and YOU ! When it comes to us actually making a positive contribution to the system we lock ourselves along with our families into a safe cocoon’ and look into the distance at countries far away and wait for a Mr Clean to come along and work miracles for us with a majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away.
Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to England. When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight out to the Gulf.
When Gulf is war-struck, we demand to be rescued and brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is mortgaged to money.
Dear Indians, the article is highly thought inductive. It calls for a great deal of introspection and pricks one’s conscience too. I am echoing J.F. Kennedy’s words to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians. “Ask What We Can Do For India And Do What Has To Be Done To Make ”